tue 28/06/2022

Ayrton Senna, the opera | reviews, news & interviews

Ayrton Senna, the opera

Ayrton Senna, the opera

F1 comes to the opera! Puccini would approve

Senna_1_trimSince his death at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, the legend of charismatic Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna has grown to almost mythic proportions. Last year the three-time world champion was voted Best Driver in F1 History in a drivers’ poll in Autosport magazine, and a new documentary about his career is due in cinemas this autumn from Working Title Films.

More remarkably, an opera about Senna’s life has been jointly commissioned by New York’s Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera. Due to premiere in London in autumn 2012, Senna (as it’s called) will feature music by post-minimalist composer Michael Torke and a libretto by Michael Korie.

It will be directed by Des McAnuff, renowned for his work on hit stage musicals including The Who’s Tommy and Jersey Boys and an enthusiastic Formula One fan.

Whether the opera can do justice to Senna the ruthless racer and Senna the mystic (he claimed he’d seen a vision of Christ ascending as he clinched his first world championship at Suzuka in 1988) remains to be seen. Librettist Korie commented: “I was intrigued by the whole idea of opera and speed. They’re not things that you usually associate together.”

Gramophone editor James Inverne pointed out: “Opera, like any art form, has to have a dramatic story and Senna’s has many of the classic ingredients – a man addicted to speed and, in the end, that’s what kills him. You could imagine Verdi or Puccini scoring this – Puccini in particular loved cars.”

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